Geography World - Introduction

  • The term geography was first coined by a Greek scholar Eratosthenes.

  • The word geography carries basically two Greek terms i.e. ‘geo’ (meaning earth) and graphos (meaning description), and the meaning of geography is description of the earth.’

  • Geography is an interdisciplinary subject as well as it is a discipline of spatial synthesis.’

  • Richard Hartshorne defines Geography as “Geography is concerned with the description and explanation of the areal differentiation of the earth’s surface.”

  • Hettner defines Geography as “Geography studies the differences of phenomena usually related in different parts of the earth’s surface.”

  • Further, the following diagram summarizes the concept of Geography as −

Scope of Geography

Approaches to Study Geography

  • The major approaches to study geography are −

    • Systematic Approach and
    • Regional Approach.
  • The systematic approach was introduced by a German geographer Alexander Von Humboldt.

  • On the other hand, the regional approach was also developed by a German geographer namely Karl Ritter; he was a contemporary of Humboldt.

  • In the systematic approach, first a phenomenon is studied world over as a whole, and then the identification of typologies or spatial patterns is done.

  • On the other hand, in the regional approach, first the world is divided into regions at different hierarchical levels and then all the geographical phenomena in a particular region are studied.

  • Because of the different approaches, geography is better known for its dualistic characteristics.

Branches of Geography

  • Based on systematic approach, main branches of geography are −

    • Physical Geography

    • Human Geography

  • However, Biogeography is the third branch, which is an interface between physical geography and human geography.

  • Major branches of Physical Geography are − Geomorphology, Climatology, Hydrology, and Soil Geography.

  • Major branches of Human Geography are − Social/Cultural Geography; Population and Settlement Geography; Historical Geography; Political Geography; and Economic Geography.

  • Major branches of Biogeography are − Plant Geography, Zoo Geography, Ecology/ecosystem, and Environmental Geography.

  • Based on Regional Approach, major branches of Geography are −

    • Regional Studies,
    • Regional Planning,
    • Regional Development, and
    • Regional Analysis.
  • Besides, there are some branches that study both the approaches. The branches are Geographical Thought, (Philosophy) and Methods and Techniques.

  • Methods and Techniques include Cartography, Quantitative Techniques/Statistical Techniques, Geo-informatics comprising techniques such as Remote Sensing, GIS, GPS, etc.